An international human rights group has finally admitted that Hamas committed war crimes in the 11-day conflict with Israel during May this year.

The conclusion was released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and reported by the BBC, both of which have been accused (here and here) of buying into Hamas’s narrative about Israel’s military retaliations.

The HRW report says the attacks against Israel “flagrantly violated” the laws of war and that Hamas should “stop trying to justify unlawful rocket attacks.”

More than 4,360 unguided rockets and mortars were fired by Palestinian terrorists killing 12 people in Israel and wounding dozens more. But hundreds of rockets fell short, killing Palestinians in Gaza. At least 260 people were reportedly killed in Gaza during the 11 days of fighting.

Between 10-21 May, Hamas fired rockets indiscriminately towards civilian populated areas in Israel from within densely populated areas of Gaza using Palestinians as human shields – a double war crime. Israel, meanwhile, responded with precision attacks on terror sites only,, doing its best to minimise casualties.

In its report released on Thursday, HRW said: “The rockets and mortars that Palestinian armed groups fired lack guidance systems and are prone to misfire, making them extremely inaccurate and thus inherently indiscriminate when directed toward areas with civilians. Launching such rockets to attack civilian areas is a war crime.

“Hamas authorities should stop trying to justify unlawful rocket attacks that indiscriminately kill and injure civilians by pointing to Israel’s violations,” Eric Goldstein, HRW acting Middle East and North Africa director, said. “The laws of war are meant to protect all civilians from harm.”

The report says Palestinian rockets and mortars which misfired killed and injured an undetermined number of people in Gaza. It said one misfire above the city of Jabalya which it investigated killed seven civilians and injured 15. According to the IDF, 680 rockets and mortars fired by Hamas fell inside the Gaza Strip.

The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, an Israeli think-tank, has estimated the misfires killed 91 people.

The report comes a day after the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) condemned “the existence and potential use by Palestinian armed groups” of tunnels under its schools in Gaza, saying they placed pupils and staff “at risk.”

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